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Hannibal: Sorbet

“…You are wearing a very well-tailored person suit.”

In ‘Sorbet’, an opportunistic medical student organ thief symbolizes the need to possess something of value. Will deduces a lot more about the nuances of the Chesapeake Ripper while Hannibal preaches the beauty of unconventionality. Oh and Gillian Anderson is Hannibal’s psychiatrist, Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier.

But really, ‘Sorbet’ is all about how our desire to connect to people is complicated and weird which makes organ removal a great analogy for how we emotionally operate; Some of us want to reap the resale value while others want to consume select parts of another but not the whole and we compartmentalize to the detriment of our sanity and pretend that our heart can be separate from, let’s say, our guts.

There’s this beautiful scene at an opera in beginning of the episode that reveals so much about Hannibal, perhaps more anything else thus far. At the end of the performance, his eyes are full with tears as he jumps to his feet and leads the crowd in a standing ovation. The opera, this drama he is immersed in, pins down something in him and awakens the loneliness. By the way, the notion here that psychopaths have not transcended feelings is yet another thing that makes this show perfectly unorthodox. Especially because their meticulously constructed person suits are put together with the same damaged material we’re all working with, they’re just using a trickier, more daring stitch. Therapy for you, Dr. Lecter.

Back to Dr. Bedelia Du Maurier. Okay, to cast Gillian Anderson in anything is just good science. I know, I’m biased, The X-Files is my most beloved show to date but the woman is so good, so irregular, she fits effortlessly well into whatever she commits to. There’s so much subtext in the Anderson/Mikkelsen scenes, my television can barely contain it or them or their characters. Plus, Dr. Bedelia’s quiet pointed approach to therapy with Hannibal hints that she knows more about him than he reveals. She’s like a gentle laser piercing his “human veil” no matter which direction he tries to lead her.

The ‘Sorbet’ case revolves around a man clumsily harvesting organs for financial gain. Sure, there’s pathology there, but nothing as malevolent as has been in evidence in previous cases. But because the Chesapeake Ripper is also currently killing and ‘harvesting’ organs, set to autopsy two bodies who died at the hands of two different killers, the forensic team et al begin to discern more motive and specifics for the latter. It might simply be luck, an intersection of two cases that bring to the surface the difference between the really dark and the terribly misguided. Hence the title, a dish served with the intention of allowing the refinement of one’s taste buds to take in more detailed ‘taste information,’ if you will.

To Hannibal, though, his struggle in the game of  'not this, not that' plays out through a series of mirrored experiences, ones where he plays fast and loose. For him. Hannibal’s patient, Franklyn, wants to be his friend, not his patient. Hannibal wants to be Will’s friend, not his psychiatrist. Hannibal wants Dr. Bedelia to be his friend, not his psychiatrist. Yeah, it’s all twisted up in the psychological maze of a madman but no less sad to witness.

The final scene between Will and Hannibal brings the 'Sorbet' question around again. Can we see people as whole entities? Moreover, will we love them for the sum of their parts? Not even Will (who sees so much, even when he doesn't want to), when he glimpses again into Hannibal’s true nature for a sliver of a moment (he watches Hannibal perform an impromptu surgery), is ready to accept what his therapist, his colleague... his friend actually is.


Odds and Ends

*Hannibal’s byzantine methods of cataloging / cannibalizing his kills are explained! He keeps a Rolodex of his victims and selects the cuts of meat for each meal accordingly. It’s no surprise that such a complex filing system exists but seeing both the amount of entries in the Rolodex coupled with the care each body part was stored, preserved then chosen was somewhat alarming. At the end of the day, I have to respect that.

*Will in his wobbly state sleeps through his therapy session. No matter! Hannibal jumps in his car and brings the therapy to him. At Quantico. An hour and a half drive away. What if every therapist did that.

*Hannibal is confronted by a fellow opera fan (played by a Fuller favorite Ellen Greene!) who complains that he hasn't entertained in awhile. He takes up the task and throws an epic dinner party. The tracking shot up the table shows dish after dish, each more exotic and fancy than the last, the guests clapping feverishly in admiration. It's practically a standing ovation.


Hannibal: “You cannot force a feast. It must present itself.”

Jack: “Has anyone touched the body?”
Brian: “For once local police behaved themselves.”
Beverly: “I touched the body… A lot going on with that body…”
A moment later.
Brian: “Surgery was unperformed with bare hands, sutures clawed open. Uh, I also did, uh, a little bit of touching.”

Hannibal: “Am I your psychiatrist or are we simply having conversations?”
Will: “Yes, I think, is the answer to that.”

Hannibal: “You realize those candidates thought we were having an affair. Why didn’t we?”
Alana: “You were already having an affair. Will does that, too, you know.”
Hannibal: “What? Have affairs?”
Alana: “Flirtatiously changes the subject, you have that pathology in common.”
Hannibal: “Or we just have you in common.”

Will (referring to a pile of crime scene photos): “What do you see, Doctor?”
Hannibal: “Sum up the Ripper in so many words?”
Will: “Choose them wisely.”
Hannibal: “Oh, I always do. Words are living things, they have point of view… agenda.”
Will: “They’re pack hunters.”
(That's some serious writer porn right there. Not sure if it’s lifted from the book, but only a writer would spin that idea onto the table.)

Hannibal (at the commencement of his dinner party): “Before we begin, you must all be warned, nothing here is vegetarian.”


  1. Another compelling, creepy episode and another great review.

    As someone who loves to cook, I am fascinated by that aspect of Hannibal's personality. The recipes are all what one would expect to see, except that we know the hidden code. The love and the joy that he brings to the preparation of his food is on a level that astonishes. The end results are worthy of a master chef, and I am in awe. Until I remember what the ingredients are…

    This was also the first episode in which I thought of Hannibal as a sexual being. Until now, that aspect of his personality just hadn't shown itself to me. Yet, the chemistry between Alana and him felt real. An affair, then or now, would not feel out of the question.

  2. Chris,
    Hannibal really does seem so happy while preparing food. I agree, it's astounding! That either makes him more sympathetic or more of a monster, I haven't decided. And yes, yes, about Hannibal being with Alana romantically or anyone for that matter. I saw it too here and it didn't seem that weird which perhaps makes ME either more sympathetic or more monstrous! Ha.

  3. When Hannibal was preparing the food and talking at the same time, you could see his attention was on the food not the person. Well directed.

  4. Teresa: Good eye. That is a powerful statement on the director's part as well as perhaps Mads Mikkelsen's.

  5. What a great episode for me. Is it wrong this episode made me hungry? As a psychiatrist, this episode was very satisfying. Too often psychiatry is misrepresented in the media. The differentiations between psychologists and psychiatrists and counselors are blurred. Real life psychiatric issues such as boundaries and doctor-patient relationships are blurred. While this episode was not 100 percent accurate, it was closer than the representations I have seen in the past. And Gillian Anderson as Lector's psychiatrist? It was like Sculley had grown up and retired. She was so beautiful with her long hair. I liked The Fall, but I thought she was much more appealing in this. The sexual chemistry between Alana and Hannibal was great as well.


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